SEED 2016 Session Descriptions

Session Title Description
Cell-Free Systems Recent years have witnessed the emergence of cell-free systems not only as testing grounds for our ability to engineer and analyze biology, but also as technologies capable of efficient and scalable synthesis of complex biological products.  This session will focus on new advances in cell-free systems for prototyping genetic circuits, discovering and evolving enzymes, and conducting biomolecular transformations.
Genome Editing Techniques for manipulating DNA have enabled transformative advances for synthetic biology.  This session will focus on the frontiers of genome design and engineering, including computational algorithms, zinc finger nucleases, TAL effector nucleases, and CRISPR-Cas9, among others.
Mammalian Cells, Systems and Medicine Synthetic biology offers the ability to go beyond traditional therapeutic interventions and to fundamentally alter the way in which the body maintains a healthy state and responds to disease.  This session will explore how customized cellular devices are enabling sophisticated cell-based therapeutics, microbiome reprogramming, and diagnostics.  
Self-Sustaining Systems and Photosynthetic Driven Bioproduction Plants and photosynthetic organisms provide a means towards sustainable life on earth through design of bio-based system for food, materials, energy and more.  This session will discuss new advances in how to harness nature’s best chemists and engineer desirable applications that address major needs such as pharmaceutical, materials including nanomaterials, artificial photosynthesis and water.
Biological Circuits in Natural and Engineered Systems This session focuses on natural and engineered biological systems using molecular circuits to implement regulation and decision-making strategies in cells.  Topics of interest include modeling, analysis, design and implementation of biological circuits, with particular interest in cell development and differentiation, cell-cell communication, cellular decision-making, gene regulation and implementation of digital and analog computation.
Expanding the Chemistry of Living Systems The extraordinary catalytic capacity of the protein synthesis machinery has driven extensive efforts to harness it for novel functions.  For example, pioneering efforts have demonstrated that it is possible to genetically encode more than the 20 natural amino acids and that this encoding can be a powerful tool to expand the chemical diversity of proteins. This session will discuss recent advances in creating custom genetic alphabets, changing the molecular machinery of the cell, and constructing genomically recoded organisms.
Bio-Design and Automation Specifying, designing, assembling, testing, and storing biological systems are defining activities in synthetic biology. Introducing formalized, efficient, standardized, and computational approaches to perform these activities are cornerstones of “bio-design automation” (BDA). BDA will allow for genetic systems composed of hundreds of parts and the re-use and sharing of community tools. In this session, we will explore novel, interdisciplinary approaches in this area. 
Engineering Design Meets Evolution Synthetic biologists use both principles of rational and evolutionary engineering to construct biological systems.  Since rational concepts may have practical limits in a biological context, this session will focus on efforts to use evolutionary approaches (e.g., directed evolution) in the context of engineering design.  Topics include continuous evolution, multiplexed evolution, and protein engineering, among others.
Enabling Technologies and Platforms Effective and scalable applications of synthetic biology require the development of enabling technologies.  These technologies may include generalizable platforms that can be re-used in many contexts or include a reagent or method, that alone, or in combination with other related technologies, may serve as a starting point for the development of new tools or applications.  This session will discuss the importance of and the development of new standards in synthetic biology, computational frameworks for designing molecular and cellular functions, and new methods that enable cellular processes to be predictably engineered at the genetic level.